Post-Operative Information & Instructions

Patient Information Following Surgery

These documents will help you better understand what to expect after surgery, including limitations, pain control, diet, and other common issues that may occur.

Please read these instructions PRIOR to surgery and refer to them AFTER surgery. You will receive discharge instructions after your surgery, but they will not be as detailed or as helpful.

Helpful Hints

  • Ice / Heat – You may apply ice to an incision for the 1st day after your surgery in 15-20 minute increments. Be sure to place a towel between your skin and the ice pack to avoid direct contact.  Not very effective after 24 hours.
    • A heating pad may also bring some comfort when used starting 2 days after your surgery in 15-20 minute increments. Do not use high heat.
  • Showering – If you do not have a drain in place, you may remove your outer dressing(s) and shower 2 full days after your surgery. You may re-cover with gauze if you prefer, but this is only necessary if you are having drainage.
    • Do NOT soak healing incision site(s) – i.e. a bath, hot tub, swimming pool
    • If you have small strips of tape directly on your skin (steri-strips), under your dressing, leave those on and do not remove them until 7-14 days after surgery.
    • The sutures used in your incision are most likely self-dissolving and should not need to be removed.
      • If you have visible black sutures, these will need to be removed by our office about 2 weeks after your surgery.
    • If staples are present, you’ll want to keep them as dry as possible.
      • We will remove these in the office about 2-3 weeks after surgery.
  • Drain(s) – If a drain was placed, you will need to make an appointment with our office to have it removed when it is draining less than 30 ml of fluid in a full 24 hour period (usually on the 3rd-5th post-op day).
    • A video on how to properly care for your drain can be found at the bottom of this page and also on our Wound Care page.
      • Empty the drain at least twice a day and record your output. After emptying, be sure to squeeze the bulb tightly to collapse it before placing the cap to ensure there is suction.
      • You do not need to save the fluid for your surgeon.
    • You may shower the day after your drain has been removed.
  • Abdominal Binder – If a binder was placed, it is important to remember that its job is to support and cradle your abdomen, not cause pain. You may adjust it as needed to achieve this.
    • We suggest wearing a clean t-shirt under your binder that you change daily. This will help prevent irritation to your skin.
    • If your binder prevents you from getting a good night sleep you may remove it. Reapply each morning.
    • Your binder is machine washable, but be sure to air dry. The best time to do this is while you are sleeping.
    • If you did not receive a binder and feel it may be beneficial, one can be purchased from a sporting goods store, pharmacy, or online.

Normal Findings After Surgery

  • You will have pain. Everyone’s pain tolerance is different.
    • For minor and laparoscopic procedures it is normal to be very sore three to four (3-4) days after your surgery. Each day thereafter, your pain should improve. So, for example, your pain should start to improve (lessen) by day four (4).
    • You may receive a prescription for pain medication. Be sure to use it if you need it, but remember not to drive while on pain medication.
      • Constipation is very common. If constipation results, start using over-the-counter stool softeners and/or milk of magnesia (MOM) before calling the office. Follow the instructions on the package(s).
  • You WILL NOT be 100% right away. Everyone’s activity levels are different.
    • You will not feel like getting off the couch for a few days. This is normal.
    • Your surgeon will let you know about specific restrictions, but in general:
      • You should not do any strenuous exercise for six to eight (6-8) weeks unless directed otherwise. No lifting over 10-15 pounds. For example, a gallon of milk weighs 8 pounds.
      • You may walk as much as you want (unless otherwise directed).
      • Use your best judgement when deciding on activities. IF IT HURTS, DO NOT DO IT. It is natural to be sore the day after strenuous activities.
  • Your incision site(s) will be red and may drain.
    • In general, you can remove dressings and shower after TWO (2) FULL DAYS following your surgery, unless otherwise directed.
      • The dressings may be removed more easily in the shower, when the tape is wet.
      • DO NOT remove the small strips of tape (“steri-strips”) that may be present UNDER your bandages.
    • DO NOT soak healing incision site(s), for example, in a bath, hot tub, or swimming pool.
    • Clear to light pink/red drainage is normal for a few days after surgery. You may apply loose dressings to stop any drainage from soiling clothing.


Below is a sample of some of the videos that can be found on our Wound Care page.

Wound Care Videos